The movie is a true epic. I was fortunate enough to get a VHS with Engish subtitles 10 years back, in Canada. It contain 2 parts, the first is the comming of age, of a young polish noble man, depicting the life and struggle of the polish people. The polish nobles lived very much like their cousins in France, Germany and England, with an emphasis on culture and splendor, but little compassion for peasants.
The second is our protagonist joining the polish army, and army allied to France and fiercely loyal to Napoleon. Who promised them an independant new Poland, with modern civil rights (Code de Civil). First the troops are being shipped to the Caribean, where they have to put down a native rebellion. A task not much to the like of the Polish troopers, but obeyed nevertheless. Next is Spain, where the troops commit plunder and pillaging the Spanish countryside, after having fought frustrating battles against insurgents. Many Polish soldiers questioning themselves, about the high ideals the once wanted to uphold. Next off to Russia, very few return. Now the battle has shifted to defend their homeland against Russian, Prussian and Austrian forces. Those battles are being fought with utter tenacity and renewed energy. The odds are overhelmingly in their disfavor, and a heartbroken force of Survivors keeps fighting a battle of retreat way west of their homeland ....until everything has turned into ashes (Popioly). This epic was produced in Polands Communist years, so it enjoyed a practically limitless budged. The battle scenes are pretty awesome, with thousends of polish soldiers(extras) filling the scenes. Today that is done with CGI effects. The costums are beautiful, the uniforms and weaponry as authentic as they could be. A real feast for history buffs, and a treat for the Polish soul.